Rhino horns: Cops face suspension

Three policemen at Suvarnabhumi Airport are expected to be suspended pending investigation after they were charged with involvement in an international wildlife smuggling syndicate.

  • Published: 7/03/2013 at 08:59 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

Pol Sgt Maj Samai Ratchjangvang, Pol Sgt Jakkapan Panprasert and Pol Sgt Phetcharit Panthaisong were charged on Wednesday with the trafficking rhinoceros horns into Thailand on Jan 6.

Their superior, Pol Col Phumin Singhasoot, chief of Suvarnabhumi Airport station, was summoned by Samut Prakan provincial police chief Pol Maj Gen Thatchai Hongthong on Thursday for a briefing.

Pol Col Phumin said after the meeting that he had proposed the three men to be suspended because they were law enforcement officers accused of committing a criminal offence and had damaged the credibility of his colleagues and the agency. 

Suppression of wildlife trafficking was one of the Royal Thai Police’s crucial policies, said Pol Col Phumin.  

The three suspects denied the charge and said they would fight the accusation in court.

The three officers allegedly tried to smuggle from the airport four horns weighing 10.6 kilogrammes brought into Thailand in luggage and estimated to be worth 12.7 million baht on the black market.

Wildlife police had summoned the officers for questioning several times after the Jan 6 seizure of the smuggled rhinoceros horns before they filed the charge against them, Pol Col Phumin said, adding a police fact-finding panel had been set up to investigate the case. 

The suspects are believed to be part of a wildlife smuggling gang led by Vixay Keosavang, a Lao man based in the Lao province of Bolikhamxay, opposite Thailand's Bung Kan province, according to the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division. 

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